For the third year in a row, Hayfield is 2-0. The Alexandria school is one of the smallest in Virginia with a Class 6 distinction, but fifth-year Coach Eric Henderson has turned the Hawks into a consistently formidable program. After strong wins over Chantilly and Edison, Henderson thinks his team is overlooked.
“We’re just going to mind our business and sneak up on people,” he said. “We love it.”
That quiet optimism is inspired by multiple factors. Henderson said the defense is the best he has had at the school; there’s depth across the board; quarterback Chase Soper had four touchdowns last week; and there’s a litany of playmakers, all getting looks in Henderson’s college-style offense.
“There are kids that don’t get on the field here that could start for every other team in the district,” Henderson said.
There’s plenty of talent, perhaps most visibly Rayjuon Pringle. In the 28-23, season-opening win over Chantilly, Pringle had a 50-yard catch and run off a screen for a touchdown. He also scored on an electrifying punt return.
“He’s the most dynamic kid in the Northern region,” Henderson said. “Just incredibly explosive.”
Beyond Pringle, Henderson said he loves what he has seen from the wide receivers, as well as both quarterbacks the Hawks have used: Soper and senior Ahmad Shaw.
“We’ve had a new quarterback each of the last five years, and we run a college offense, not a loose collection of youth league and high school schemes,” Henderson said. “So it takes a while to get used to it. “
After a bye this past weekend, the Hawks’ next game is Friday against Fairfax. Then they’ll face a tough game at South County.
— Michael Errigo
St. John’s wins 5-OT thriller
No. 1 St. John’s took down nationally ranked Miami Central, 37-34, in a game that lasted five overtimes Saturday. The game-winning play was an acrobatic, one-handed touchdown catch by junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett from junior quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava.
The Cadets led 17-7 at halftime before Central started climbing back. With 5:21 left in the fourth quarter, the Rockets converted a field goal to cut their deficit to 24-16. After an interception, the Rockets scored and converted a two-point conversion to tie the score at 24 with 23 seconds left.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime to send it to a second. The Cadets then turned the ball over on downs but blocked the Rockets’ field goal attempt to extend the game further. In the third OT, the Rockets missed a field goal, and the Cadets’ field goal was blocked. In the fourth, the Cadets and Rockets both fumbled the ball away. Then, finally, the fifth overtime: The Rockets converted a field goal to make it 34-31 before Jarrett gave the Cadets the win.
St. John’s (3-0) continues its grueling schedule Saturday against Florida’s IMG Academy, one of the top teams in the nation.
— Samantha Pell
Glenelg gets revenge against Howard
The memory of Glenelg’s 34-point loss to Howard last season hadn’t left Gladiators Coach Butch Schaffer by the time the teams met again Saturday.
“Last year stung,” Schaffer said. “We were outplayed in every facet. Our kids took it personal.”
Glenelg returned 13 starters from last season after losing to Damascus in the Maryland 2A semifinals. Those players prepared in the offseason with aspirations of being the best Howard County team and competing for a state championship. The Gladiators seem on track for those goals after beating Howard, 42-14, to move to 2-0.
Howard and River Hill historically have been the top Howard County squads. Howard went 12-0 last year before falling to Wise in the Maryland 4A semifinals.
Almost all of Glenelg’s players play on both sides of the ball since it’s a 2A school, while Howard can be more flexible as a 4A school.
On Saturday, running back/linebacker Wande Owens scored three rushing touchdowns and returned an interception for a score. Quarterback and linebacker Tyler Reiff’s pick-six in the fourth quarter sealed the Gladiators’ second victory over Howard in the past three years.
With River Hill losing Saturday, Glenelg is in position to win the county.
“As a coach, it makes it a lot easier when the guys lead themselves,” Schaffer said. “That’s what makes a team good: when they hold each other accountable.”
— Kyle Melnick
Landon thriving with small roster
Only 36 players are on Landon’s roster, and every one of them plays at least two positions — one on offense and one on defense. Although the small roster requires some players to always be on the field, the No. 20 Bears have not shown fatigue, scoring at least 40 points and limiting their opponents to a single-digit score in each of their first two games.
Coach Paul Padalino credited his linemen for the high-scoring offense and stout defense during his team’s strong start, including a 40-3 win over St. Mary’s-Annapolis this weekend.
“We have some experienced guys at defensive line and offensive line who play both ways,” Padalino said. “They just got so much better with experience, and they executed today. We were able to assert ourselves up front.”
The offensive line paved the way for its rushing attack, which was led by running back Zayd DeLane, who ran for 117 yards and a touchdown. The linemen also protected sophomore quarterback Kino Lilly, who ran bootlegs on most “passing” plays. He threw for four touchdowns in his second start.
Most of the offensive linemen play on the defensive line, too, and they dominated on that side of the ball against St Mary’s. Landon allowed only 17 rushing yards and constantly put pressure on the quarterback, who completed less than half of his throws and had two interceptions.
“When our defensive line dominates up front, it creates havoc for the offense, and we don’t give them a lot of time and force them to throw the ball in the air,” Padalino said.
The Bears look to continue their winning streak Friday against Boys’ Latin.
— David J. Kim
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